Chrome Apps Are No More - End Of An Era
Written by Mike James   
Thursday, 16 January 2020

People are reporting the imminent demise of the Chrome App as another example of Google dumping anything it cares to. But there is more - the Chrome App was also an idea whose time seems to be over.


Chrome Apps are being phased out. The official timetable is:

  • March 2020: Chrome Web Store will stop accepting new Chrome Apps. Developers will be able to update existing Chrome Apps through June 2022.
  • June 2020: End support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support through December 2020.
  • December 2020: End support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • June 2021: End support for NaCl, PNaCl, and PPAPI APIs.
  • June 2021: End support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support through June 2022.
  • June 2022: End support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS for all customers.

We knew that Chrome Apps were dead on Windows, Mac and Linux, but the big surprise is that Chrome Apps are no more on Chrome OS as well as in the browser. This is quite a turnaround because the idea was that Chrome OS was based on the idea of the browser as OS and Chrome Apps were the natural "native" apps for the platform. As the Chrome Apps web site (still) says:

"Chrome Apps let you use HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript to deliver an experience comparable to a native application."

This was the dream of web apps as good as native apps and this idea has partially died along with the Chrome App and this is why it marks an end of an era.

Now that they have gone what do you do if you want to write a Chrome OS app? Your choices are to write an Android app or a Linux program or code a website as a single-page app. Given that you can add a desktop icon for your website, you can still make it look like a native app. What Google suggests you do is to create a Progressive Web App (PWA) and if there isn't a suitable API for the features you need you should create a browser extension to provide it.

The argument is that there simply weren't enough users of Chrome Apps and, now that HTML/JavaScript has advanced so far, PWAs can take the strain. There is some truth in this and it is the case that if Chrome Apps didn't exist now you wouldn't invent them, but there are existing Apps that don't have PWA equivalents.

While it is true that you can create offline apps with PWA, it was originally thought that Chrome OS would extend the idea of Chrome Apps until the combined ecosystem would rival desktop operating systems like Windows. This no longer seems to be Google's target. It is difficult to know what is.


More Information

Moving Forward from Chrome Apps

Related Articles

Google Starts Its Push To Progressive Web Apps - Bye Bye Chrome Apps

Chrome Apps No Longer On Windows,Mac And Linux

At Last You Can Install Web Apps In Android 

Mozilla Web Apps - take the web page out of the app 

Chrome Gets Desktop App Launcher

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 January 2020 )